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Arlington Heights pharmacy owner shot in head during robbery, survives

August 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A shop owner was seriously wounded after he was shot in the head during a robbery in Arlington Heights.

For nearly 35 years Carlos Arana has owned Botanica Indio de Samayac on the 1300 block of 2nd Street near Pico Boulevard. Inside he sells everything from religious items to tarot readings.

"It's no secret from the neighborhood people that he always has money on him, you know, five-$6,000 all the time," said LAPD Sgt. Mike Ventura.

Police say Monday around 9 p.m. three armed men entered the shop and ordered everyone inside to get on the ground and they demanded money.

Seeing the guns, police say Arana ran to the back of the store and locked himself in a bedroom.

"They told the father if he didn't come out they were going to shoot his son, so the father came out," said LAPD Detective Robert Palacios. "One stood outside with the son, two other ones went into the bedroom and basically told him 'If you don't give us the money we are going to hurt you.'"

Detectives say Arana eventually gave all his cash, about $4,000, to the suspects, but he was not willing to let it go quietly.

"When the gun was pulled out he felt threatened they were going to shoot him anyway," said Palacios. "He put up a struggle, and during the struggle, that's when one of the rounds went off." The first one missed, according to police.

Police say Arana was laying face down on a bed when he was shot once in the head at point-blank range.

"At the last minute [he] turned his head and flinched. That motion resulted in a graze wound," said Ventura.

"Speaking with the doctors our investigation revealed during the struggle there was a lot of head movement," said Palacio. "The bullet ricocheted off his head. He sustained a laceration, but he should live through that. He is very lucky to be alive."

Police say Arana played dead while the suspects left. Arana called 911 and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was listed in serious but stable condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The owner runs the pharmacy with his son, who witnessed the crime. He says it isn't the first time the store has been robbed, but it was definitely the most violent.

"It looks like there was a close contact shot, almost an execution style," said LAPD Sgt. Mike Ventura. "And had it not been for the motion of the victim at the very last minute, most certainly he would have expired."

Police say the suspects fled the scene in a black Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. The numbers on the license plate were not discerned. Police believe the suspects may have been at the store earlier in the day before returning to rob the store.

Police are in the process of collecting surveillance video. Anyone with information is asked to call the Los Angeles Police Department at (877) LAPD-24-7.

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